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    Thunderbird for a Day: Zoey Stachowiak

    Thunderbird for a Day: Zoey Stachowiak

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Laurel Richards | Zoey Stachowiak, seven-year-old aspiring pilot, poses next to a F-16 during a...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Laurel Richards 

    Air Force Thunderbirds


    The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, hosted an aspiring pilot as a part of their “Thunderbird for a Day” initiative.

    Zoey Stachowiak, a seven-year-old Wisconsin native, who was recently diagnosed with an Arnold-Chiara I malformation, visited the Thunderbirds’ squadron to experience life as a Thunderbird.

    “This program is a great way to reach out and support our younger fans who are aspiring aviators or experiencing medical hardships. The whole team really enjoyed having Zoey and her family part of the team for the day,” said Captain Remoshay Nelson, Thunderbirds public affairs officer. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s piloting a Thunderbird jet someday.”

    As a part of her day, Zoey and her family learned Thunderbird history, met the team, and watched the Thunderbirds prepare for a practice.

    When asked what the highlight of her day was, Zoey responded with “my favorite part was when we got to go on to the flight line and watch them all take off!”

    After a short pause, she added “Oh, and meeting Mace!”

    “Mace” is the callsign for Thunderbird 5, Major Michelle Curran, who is the only female pilot on the Thunderbirds. Last month, Curran hosted an Instagram giveaway of ‘Fly like a girl’ embroidered patches and Zoey submitted a video sharing her aspirations to inspire other girls after her surgery and to become a Thunderbird one day.

    Zoey’s excitement for the team started back in 2018 during the Northern Neighbors Day Airshow in North Dakota, where her father was stationed at the time.

    “She first noticed the Thunderbirds when we were stationed in Minot,” said Kaitlyn Stachowiak, Zoey’s mother. “They were practicing on base for a few days and her eyes were glued to the sky. There’s not a day that she doesn’t hear planes and then looks to see if it’s the Thunderbirds.”

    Zoey is a military dependent and her family is currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

    “We just want to say thank you to the Thunderbirds and the team for taking the time to make Zoey feel so special,” added her mother, Kaitlyn.

    Story was originally posted to DVIDS on June 25, 2020, and may be found at



    Date Taken: 06.25.2020
    Date Posted: 07.09.2020 18:50
    Story ID: 373656
    Location: LAS VEGAS, NV, US 
    Hometown: LAS VEGAS, NV, US
    Hometown: NEW BERLIN, WI, US

    Web Views: 115
    Downloads: 0